COVID has affected millions of us in uncountable ways, and the end seems to be nowhere in sight. We have ample reasons to worry, so let’s revisit practices that will make us feel better and help us wean ourselves away from unhealthy habits that have crept in since the pandemic began.
In the Chinese horoscope, August is governed by the Metal Element—it drives us to begin slowing down for the fall, to begin conserving our energy and letting go of attitudes and emotions that interfere with our health. When we let go of negativity, we make room for Metal’s transformational energy to enter and encourage the growth of love, joy, and compassion.
It is healthy to have some anxiety in our current situation since people who are not worried about what is going on are likely to endanger the health of themselves and others. On the other hand, when we remain anxious for long periods, we can lose sleep, become depressed, compromise our immunity, increase our blood sugar and blood pressure, and eradicate our sex drive.
Perhaps this will sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to decrease anxiety is to accept the fact that that this is our new reality and the more we try to resist it, the worse we are going to feel. It is reasonable to acknowledge that we don’t like having to do things this new way and that it is hard to live like this, and that there are risks even though we know how to take precautions that can minimize them.
News about the pandemic is everywhere, and it is important that the experts we choose to listen to are worthy of our trust. Most scientists believe that the CDC is a reliable source for information, but no matter whom we believe, staying healthy and keeping everyone around us healthy, is the most important contribution that we can make—for our own safety as well as for those in the community surrounding us.
We can take time for meditation, prayer, or mindfulness; we can focus on the present and remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have. We can practice good posture, relax our shoulders, eat balanced meals, unplug tech, declutter, chat with friends, volunteer, take a break from alcohol, lose ourselves in good books, take a warm bath, dig in the garden, snuggle with a partner, or cuddle with a pet.
Admittedly unhealthy eating, smoking, and alcohol can serve as welcome distractions when reality is frightening or discouraging, but these self-soothing mechanisms can create worse problems in the future. To diminish our anxiety, we have to accept life as it is—even though we don’t like it—and work toward establishing healthy practices that relax and refresh us and will help us get through the challenges ahead.
When make mistakes—and we probably will—we must forgive ourselves for what we did and vow to begin each day afresh. We need to continue to encourage behaviors that we know are good for us and continue working on them until healthier choices become our own new normal!
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